Our Boatman and Other Characters at Alaska Rivers Company
At Alaska Rivers Company, we take tremendous pride in our staff. All are CPR Certified, and have attended the Kenai River Guide Academy for fishing or rafting. Several are certified by the Coast Guard, and all our fishing guides carry the 52 million pieces of certification required by Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Chugach National Forest, Alaska State Parks, and the Department of Environmental Conservation. (Just to name a few).
We feel that our ARC guide crew is set apart because of the pride we instill in them about the importance of being a boatman, and not just a guide. We emphasize safety first and adhering to rules of the river. As a part of our staff, we expect our employees to be professional and personable at all times, on and off the water. Finally, we make sure our crew has fun in what they do, and humor in their work. By following these simple steps with our staff, we have created a fabulous loyal team that will provide you a safe, fun and professional Alaskan experience on the upper Kenai and at Alaska Rivers Company.
Erik Route- General Manager of Operations
Born in Colorado and raised in a very small mountain community west of Denver, Erik spent the majority of his childhood summers in Alaska, mostly in Cooper Landing with his aunt, uncle and extended family. At 13, his uncle started to take him on 10-day wilderness float trips in Western Alaska. Erik confesses that he learned what it takes to become a true boatman: row a boat, cast a line, cuss and tell lies. Erik graduated from college in Colorado with a BS in Geology and then went to Montana to pursue his master’s degree. All of this schooling made him realize how much he missed rowing a boat, casting a line, cussing and telling lies. That’s why he moved to Alaska permanently in 2003 and became a local Cooper Landing resident and started working for Alaska Rivers Company where this sort of behavior is normal. Erik’s likes: boating (of course), skiing, wrestling brown bears, playing music, clubbing salmon, snow machining, hunting, cussing, telling lies.
Cory Route- Office General Manager
This little gal might throw you for a loop when you first meet her, but don’t let this sweet soft-spoken Arkansas gal fool you. She runs the ARC crew year-round (okay… and Erik too) and keeps us all on our toes, organized, moving and groovin’. Cory has a degree in Geology as well, and is a top-notch Alaskan naturalist. In addition to being familiar with our wild berries, mushrooms, flowers and fauna, she’s quite artistic, painting, knitting hats and making jewelry. A competitive runner in college, Cory was at the top of the NCAA crowd in cross country running and pretty much likes to run everywhere… and forever! Cory also is quite competitive when it comes to skiing, skijoring, kayaking, softball and the basketball game bump. You definitely don’t mess with her at bump…
Gary Galbraith – Owner & Founder
Thirty-nine years ago, Gary came upon the beautiful community of Cooper Landing and sank his roots into the banks of the Upper Kenai River. Starting with very little, he built Alaska Rivers Company to become one of the longest established rafting and fishing guide outfitters on the Kenai Peninsula. Gary still gets on the oars, and loves to show visitors the wonders of our great state. He also can be found quite often in his garden, or be seen flying above, sight seeing on sunny days.
This young fellow is one of a few that can say he’s been guiding clients on the river since he was 13. He’s hard-working kid and an evil ping pong player,and fits in quite well at Alaska Rivers Company as a boatman. Kyle grew up in Cooper Landing, enjoying the fruits of our community and, at one point, was the only eighth grader in a school the size of 12 students. At 16, he had his first experience rafting and hiking the Grand Canyon and officially became an addict. When he turned eighteen, his long wait and love for baseball helped ARC win the coveted championship in 2014. Now he’s an studying Civil Engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in the off season, and plays in the back country whenever he can. However, Kyle doesn’t spend much time practicing ping pong anymore, which is really annoying because he still beats everyone.
This 6′ 6″ gentleman is otherwise known as the “Giant”. Ben is originally from Minnesota but has been coming to Alaska to visit his uncle in Anchorage and playing on our rivers since he was a pip-squeak. He’s quite an athletic boatman—plays all sorts of sports like basketball, football, hockey, baseball, tennis and golf, plus hikes, bikes, skis, you name it. Like a true nerd, Ben’s graduated from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma with a double major, one in Biology and one in Environmental Policy. He’d also like the girls to know that he is exceptionally handsome, wealthy, single and, oh yeah, modest. (But remember what we say about boatmen!) But we love him anyway—especially since he always hits at least four huge home runs during our annual softball tournament that sets the crowds wild.
He’s known as “Magic Legs” during our softball games because of his speedy form, which stems from being young and playing soccer throughout high school. Originally from Anchorage, Drew grew up fishing and playing with his family on the middle Kenai River. Drew is one of those poor souls who has been raised in that type of Alaskan environment that leads to having a fishing and rafting problem. So of course he fits right in with our crew at ARC. And, apparently Drew can ski and do fancy tricks coming down a mountain too. One of his favorite things to do is to go down a steep hill in the snow super fast on these fat sticks, but backwards, and then jump and slide down metal rails with an occasional flip. Of course… doesn’t everyone love doing that?
All you have to do is look at the photo on the right and you can tell that this boatman grew up at Alaska Rivers Company. As a child, he literally was found crawling in and out of coolers. But now that he is over 6 feet tall, you are more than likely to find him crawling in and out of rafts. Jimmy also grew up here in Cooper Landing, attending our little school, but now spends winters in the ski resort town of Girdwood. From there he travels to high school in Anchorage, but still finds time to hit the slopes to ski at Alyeska Resort. During the school year, he does cross country running, and nordic skis for South High. He also is an excellent piano player. However he hasn’t quite figured out how to fit a piano in one of our rafts yet to help entertain our guests. But he’s working on it!
Krissy is one of our go-to gals who works in our office, a top notch naturalist for conducting hikes and helps running shuttles. She graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Park and Protected Area Management, and is currently going for her Masters at Alaska Pacific University. She is one busy gal, as she also works full time for AmeriCorps, and is very involved in educating our visitors and our little community on the impact of waste on our environment. That being said, be sure to not even think about littering around her… definitely not a good idea!
Robin is about as Alaskan as anyone can get. Raised in Fairbanks, and on a reindeer farm no less. Her story starts like many young girls, in which at one point when she was young she asked her parents for a horse. Typically this doesn’t pan out, but in her case, she had to settle for a reindeer. And then that deal turned into a small herd! Robin’s has been on the oars since a young teen, and pretty much does every fun outdoor sport there is, from mountain biking, to back country and alpine skiing, to canoeing and hiking all over. Currently she’s a student at the University of Montana pursuing a degree in Fish and Wildlife Biology.
This hardworking Colorado gal moved to Cooper Landing a few years ago and had no problem fitting right in with our locals. Often you can find her out hiking our trails or kayaking, canoeing, or fishing around our lakes and rivers. Christie received her Outdoor Education Degree from Red Rocks Community College and shares her love for nature and animals with everyone she interacts with. She’s a welcome addition to our ARC staff in the office and as a boat woman. Her positive can do attitude, infectious smile and laugh makes everyday at ARC and on the river with her a great experience.
Vince was born and raised in eastern Montana, where he grew up farming, ranching and fishing. After high school, Vince worked as a wild land firefighter for 3 years in central Montana and then completed another 3 year stint in northern California. Between the fire seasons, he traveled extensively through New Zealand, Central America and Europe. He’s recently buckled down and is in Fairbanks finishing his undergraduate degree in Spanish at UAF. We are extremely lucky to have Vince join us at ARC, as he possesses an easy, can do attitude, is extremely professional and polite, and is a very skilled boatman. And even though he’s back in school and working full time, he still manages to enjoy a variety of outdoor sports, including fishing (of course), hiking, mountain biking and is always looking for the opportunity to climb a good tree.
If you join us for one of our guided hikes, you may have the pleasure of going out with this wonderful Alaskan lady. An experienced outdoors woman (hiking, fishing, hunting, chopping wood… you name it), Chris is right at home hiking and tromping around the wonderful trails in Cooper Landing. (And it doesn’t hurt that she is also a year round resident!) She is an avid birder and naturalist that loves to share her knowledge, so having her take you or your group out on a hike is a wonderful treat to add to your Alaskan experience.
Matt came aboard at ARC and immediately impressed us with his love for the outdoors, willingness to jump right in and his Mr. Fix It ability on all of our equipment and vehicles. With several years in the construction industry under his belt, Matt’s hands on experience has been a great addition to Alaska Rivers Company. Matt enjoys rafting, fishing, and great music.
Sean Smart grew up in Alaska, but after high school joined the U.S. Army and found himself down in the lower 48. While serving, he was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II, and also did a stint as a recruiter before finishing up 6 years of enlistment. He returned to Alaska to work in the oilfield industry in up in Prudhoe Bay. This type of employment provides two weeks off every month, and he found that he needed to keep himself busy in his down time, so Sean took up fly fishing. This type of activity caused what many in the Landing suffer from, known as “fishaddiction”. And to our benefit, he has joined our other addicts at ARC. Now even though Sean has a little issue with hitting softballs consistently, he fits right in with our staff with his peppy banter, incredible guitar playing and love for the outdoors.
During the summers while in high school, Heath came to Cooper Landing to visit his Uncle to work and play. He graduated from school in Arizona as the top wrestler in his weight class and also as an excellent baseball player. He’s now in college, and we’ve been lucky enough to have him join us here at ARC. Around camp, Heath is known for always wearing a back pack, so the pictures of him here are considered very rare. To give you an idea of his love for those bags with shoulder straps, we are pretty sure he wears one to dinner, for breakfast, to staff meetings, to the shower, and are pretty sure, to bed. Also, Heath has multiple colored packs in various styles and even his dry bag is a back pack! So guess what his nickname quickly became? Oh, yes, you guessed it… Mr. Backpack.
Sean joins us in the Landing from what used to be a small farm town of Windsor, Colorado to see what his father loved about being in Alaska as a commercial fisherman. He currently is studying Wildlife Biology at Colorado State and fits right in at ARC as an avid fly fisherman, his love of pets as a gun dog trainer and outdoors man as an avid bird hunter. Even though he has a quiet side, his size and gait probably gives away that he has some history in playing football. And of course we are totally loving the fact that he can lift heavy things (rafts) and run real fast (softball), and based on his impressive tackling and sacking record in college, figure he’s good to have around when any of our wildlife (guides) get out of hand.
Yvette Galbraith – ARC Marketing Coordinator
In 2003 Yvette was introduced to a handsome fellow that owned a rafting and fishing guide business on the Kenai Peninsula. After 3 years of dating, she found herself marrying this adrenaline junkie and relocating with her two boys (Kyle and Jimmy), their dog and her marketing consulting business to Cooper Landing. Yvette was raised in Anchorage and received her degree in Marketing with a minor in Tourism Industry Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She owns and operates Alaska Marketing Consultants and handles the promotion of ARC. She loves to get away from her computer when she can, so you often can find her gardening or helping outside when needed. Also during the summer you may find her doing “extensive market research” on various raft trips or drift fishing with the employees, especially on gorgeous sunny days.
Folks in Cooper Landing love their dogs. And at ARC, we love our canines. But just to clarify before we go any further: we love our dogs, not your dog. So when visiting our facility, please leave your pooch at home. We do not allow pets in our rental cabins and being left all day in your car (especially on a hot day) is just really lame for your four-legged best friend.
The old lady and queen of the crowd. She’s hitting 16 years in her stride. This old ski dawg gets mighty angry when her owners leave her at home when they go for a few turns, but her hips just are not the same. She is a little bit slower now, but still loves to ride with Erik on the front of his motorcycle or snow machine.
One word. Goof. Well two. Sweet Goof. She’s a love bug and likes her pats, rubs and any attention you give her. She has been mistaken as a bear a couple times, so since she is loved so much, we have a tendency to decorate her in bright colors so hunters know better!
She’s the baby on the grounds and very spoiled. Yes, we promise you, she’s been fed. She’s a lab, she’s always hungry. And think twice about throwing that ball or stick, unless you want a friend for life.